By Epa Ogie Eboigbe

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: When it was discovered two weeks ago that adulterated fuel had been imported into the country and was the cause of damage to vehicles and the attendant fuel queues when stations were stopped from selling the toxic fuel, President Muhammadu Buhari told us that producers and providers of consumable products will be held accountable for substandard services and or products sold by them.

He was reported to have directed relevant government agencies to take every step in line with the laws of the country to ensure the respect and protection of consumers against market abuses and social injustices. In a statement by one of his media aides, the President said the protection of consumer interests is a priority of his government and it was ready to take all necessary measures to protect consumers from hazardous products, loss, or injuries from the consumption of substandard goods.

President Buhari’s comments followed the admission by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) that ‘adulterated’ Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from Belgium had been brought into the country by 4 approved petroleum importing companies which it identified as MRS, Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium, Oando, and Duke Oil.

Two of the named companies denied the accusation but NNPC’s Group Managing Director Mele Kyari, said an investigation revealed the presence of Methanol in the PMS cargoes of the companies.

Different groups like the House of Representatives, Senate, PDP and others called for thorough and swift punishment for the offending companies and for palliative measures to ensure the fuel queues disappear as quickly as possible so that the citizens do not suffer needlessly.

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 On its part, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) said it understands that consumers who purchased fuel that constitutes part of the poisoned consignment have experienced technical difficulties and damage to their vehicles or other relevant equipment or machinery, assuring that it would address the hardship or difficulties consumers may experience with respect to the withdrawal of the implicated products from the market.

FCCPC was expected to secure the assurance and promote consumer confidence that constraints associated with the distribution of fuel nationwide are addressed and will not persist.

Well, scarcity of fuel has persisted. There are still queues all over and reports are rife of increase in the sale price of petrol in some stations, while black market sale has also been booming.

As usual, those who suffer are the citizens.

The full sanctions ordered by the President against the importers of the adulterated fuel was welcome by many Nigerians but if what has happened in the past is to be taken into consideration, the threat of punishment may just be what it is – threat, but no action.

In other climes, government officials and those of the petroleum corporation, its associate agencies and the fingered companies should have resigned by now and set the tone for what is further to come, in terms of sanctions. Instead, the ministers and other officials are behaving as if it is business as usual and from all indications, nothing will happen.

Who will bell the cat? When can we start walking our talk? Should it always be ‘noise from the vendor’s mouth’ all the time and no action?

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The President ought to lay a marker and tell his appointees responsible for this shameful importation of toxic fuel that ‘enough is enough’ and make them pay for their action or inaction.

Some of the importers claim that their products were certified okay by the NNPC’s agencies and that they have documents to prove their assertion. An investigation of this issue should not take too long. Instead of the government paying to remove the Methanol from the imported fuel, the officials, companies and other individuals responsible should be made to bear the hundreds of billions of Naira that is being touted for the clean-up.

Time to walk out talk.



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